Workplace Violence in Healthcare: Strategies for Advocacy is an article written by AnnMarie Papa and Jeanne Venella, (2013). This article reflects on the different kinds of work place violence in which nurses and other medical staff endure while on the clock, and on the financial impact that workplace violence has on the healthcare system. Violence can be directed at any one, but in the hospital setting it seems to be directed mostly at nurses who work directly with the public and are caring for patients. Papa, A., Vanella, J., (2013) propose that there are several settings in which workplace violence can occur, however, incidences of violence were focused in the emergency department and on the labor and delivery floors. Aside from this article this nurse has witnessed intraprofessional violence in her workplace, this is when there is nurse-to nurse aggression that involves disruptive behaviors that can be verbal or nonverbal abuse and ultimately leads to bulling.
Violence and abusive behaviors by individuals towards healthcare professionals is not a new trend. This has been going on for many years and has become a spotlight in the world of medicine. With all that people have to deal with in their everyday personal lives, workplace violence should be the last thing they should need to worry about. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that over 2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year (Papa, A., Vanella, J., 2013). These statistics are outrageous, and pose many concerns and personal safety issues for individuals working in the healthcare environment.
Working in high stress environments such as the Emergency Department and Labor and Delivery floors can be extremely frustrating. In some cases, it can become a dangerous place to be and many nurses who work in these departments usually end up leaving or taking their frustration out on others. Many patients and physicians depend on nurses to do many tasks. These tasks can include; taking on more patients than one can handle, being the scapegoat for other nurses, dealing with intoxicated and abusive patients, dealing with family members of patients who are angry, and so on. In these high stress environments, nurses’ personal safety is at risk. In fact, according to the National Institute for prevention of Workplace Violence, the second leading cause of death from women while at work is workplace homicides from assaults and other violent acts (Papa, A., Vanella, J., 2013).
In conjunction with the personal safety of nurses and congruent care of patients, there are financial aspects that impact the healthcare facilities. Papa, A., Vanella, J., (2013) indicate that the direct cost to American businesses from workplace violence has been estimated at $120 billion a year and where the employer failed to take protective, preventative measures under the 1996 OSHA guidelines, was $3.1 million per person per incident. The indirect cost related to workplace violence is based on higher than average turnovers, increases request for medical leaves, unusually higher time and attendance issues, and stress related illnesses. Based on these statistics, employers and healthcare facilities are continuously learning new ways to develop better communication skills and methods of managing workplace violence. The goal is to decrease nursing turnover, and work frustration, and increase effective communication and positive work environments. The Emergency Nurse Association has been a leader in the effort to advocate for legislative consequences for those who commit an act of violence in the healthcare workplace, and as of 2012 many states, including New Mexico have established penalties for assaults on nurses/healthcare personnel (Papa, A., Vanella, J., 2013).